VOL. 129 | NO. 46 | Friday, March 7, 2014
May County Primary Ballot Set
By Bill Dries
The ballot for the May Shelby County primary elections was completed Wednesday, March 5, as the Shelby County Election Commission disqualified a County Commission candidate whose attorney argued that she intended to but never did live in the district she hoped to represent.
The ballot for the May primary elections is complete after the Election Commission disqualified a County Commission candidate.
(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)
Meeting in special session Wednesday, the commission denied two other challenges of the residency of candidates in the primaries, leaving Edith Ann Moore in the Democratic primary for County Commission District 6 and M. Latroy Williams in the Democratic primary for Shelby County trustee.
The disqualification of E. Jefferson Jones came on a complaint by rival primary contender Eddie Jones.
E. Jefferson Jones listed 3183 Winchester Road as her residence. Eddie Jones said the vacant strip shopping center couldn’t be her home because it is zoned commercial.
“She is not a resident of District 11,” Jones told the election commission. “To me it’s cut and dry.”
But her attorney, Paul Robinson, argued that state law allows his client to claim the retail site as a residence “if there is evidence of residential use.”
Robinson also acknowledged that Jones’ “plans to live there didn’t work out.”
“The lease fell through,” he added, claiming election commission staff told her to keep her address on the petition the same even though just after the Feb. 20 candidate filing deadline, Jones changed her voter registration address to 3503 Southland.
Williams listed a home address of 3187 Winchester Road, in the same retail center as E. Jefferson Jones, and was also represented by Robinson in a challenge by Samantha Rajapakse, a member of the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee.
“Where the bedroom?” she asked. “He has no utilities there.”
Williams, after taking an oath in the proceedings, gave his address as 3696 Hermitage Drive, but said he had lived at the Winchester commercial site until the Feb. 20 filing deadline.
“I did live in the back of the business. I’ve always done that,” Williams said, adding that he moved because the owner of the center no longer wanted to rent to him citing publicity from the residency challenge. The challenge wasn’t made until Feb. 27.
E. Jefferson Jones “is not a resident of District 11. To me it’s cut and dry.”
County Commission candidate
But election commissioners said even if Williams was violating a local code for use of a retail space, their issue in the countywide race was whether Williams lived in Shelby County.
“My only concern is does he live in Shelby County,” said election commissioner Steve Stamson, who moved to certify Williams as a candidate after election commission attorneys said the broader question of county residency was relevant.
Moore didn’t have a challenger appear at Wednesday’s meeting. But rival contender Willie Brooks had contacted election commissioners the week before questioning her residency in Raleigh, citing her voter registration address in Whitehaven in the 2010 elections.
“I have not lived there in three years,” she said when asked specifically if she lived in the house on Waverly.
Moore said she lived in a boarded-up house at 4307 Gladstone that she is having rehabbed. She hasn’t lived in it recently, she said, because a gas leak has made it unsafe.
Her attorney, Cedric Wooten, said the windows are boarded up because of recent vandalism and noted that other houses in the same neighborhood are inhabited despite having plywood over the windows.
Election commission attorney John Ryder said state law makes provisions for being out of a property temporarily.
“It’s difficult for me to believe someone is residing at this property,” said election commissioner Anthony Tate as he looked over pictures of the property.
But Tate later voted with the other commissioners to certify Moore’s name for the May ballot.